Thursday, January 28, 2010

Elise learns to snowplow!

I promised to update this blog when Elise finally started to snowplow, and that time has finally arrived! Today was likely our seventh trip to the Blackcomb base area to "ski" and I was starting to have serious doubts that she'd pick up the skill, but perseverance finally paid off...for both of us.

What a professional ski instructor could have likely accomplished in an afternoon, took me close to one month, but today I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The "light" I'm referring to is our family skiing in the mountains together, enjoying the fresh winter air and excitement that goes with this invigorating sport.

The Details
Although Elise had been making very small, incremental steps towards learning to snowplow, today was a big leap forward. We made our way up to Blackcomb mid-morning and were greeted by glorious sunshine. It wasn't cold, the day was just perfect for being outside. After a small incident in the parking lot where I literally bowled Elise over onto the pavement (she crept up behind me while I was rushing around the van), we made our way up to the Blackcomb base area. We rode up the Magic Chair, which she loves, and made our way over to the Magic Carpet lift.

The carpet is like a conveyor belt on the snow and can be seen in the background of the video at the bottom of the page. To warm up, I carried Elise partway up the slope and let her slide down the gentle incline. She immediately started to try her snowplow and was successful! After a number of short runs, we boarded the carpet and rode to the top. She was able to ski most of the way down without me rescuing her. She was visibly pleased with herself and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face (insert more proud father comments here).

The day wasn't without incident. There were a few falls, some tears and a bit of whining about cold hands, but overall the experience was very positive. To relieve the pressure, we stopped for a break to make snowmen and throw snowballs before skiing all the way down under the Magic Chair to the lodge. A brief lunch and hot chocolate got us fueled up for one more ride up the Magic Chair and a final run. I provided Smarties as rewards for reaching various landmark goals on the way down but, truth be told, I also did a fair amount of skiing with her in my arms to give her a break from the stress and fatigue of trying so hard.

So, the leash is gone and she's on her way. The video may not look like much, but for a snow-phobic 3-year-old, this was a big accomplishment. Learning to ski, much like climbing, is quite scary - my hat's off to you today Elise.

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